Trump Threatens To Cut California Off From Healthcare Funding Over Abortion
The Trump administration has threatened to withhold unspecified federal funding from California over the state’s requirement that all health insurance companies cover abortions, according to The Hill.
Such a requirement violates federal law, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Friday, arguing that California may not force people to pay for other people’s abortions.
“If states receive federal funds from HHS or other agencies, they can’t discriminate against health plans that decline to cover or pay for abortions. Period. Full stop,” said Roger Severino, director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS. California has 30 days to bring its policy into compliance with federal law or risk losing some of its funding from HHS.
In 2014, California passed a law “requiring all insurance plans, including those offered by employers, to cover abortion,” The Hill reported, but religious groups have argued that the law violates their religious rights.
After a lawsuit brought by the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit was dismissed by the courts, the matter was brought to HHS — which was sympathetic to the convent.
“Why can’t they just be left alone?” Severino said of the nuns, The Hill reported. “Why must it be all or nothing? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In fact, it’s against the law.”
He added: “If people want to get abortion coverage they can get it, but do not force other people to do it against their conscience.”
Severino did not specify precisely what funding California might lose but said the state is a “big consumer of HHS funds.”
“Our goal is compliance,” he insisted. “We want to see California and any other state that seeks to follow in California’s footsteps come into compliance and obey the law.”
The Hill noted that other states, including Maine, Illinois and New York, also have mandatory abortion coverage.
In response, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) suggested he has no intention of caving to HHS’s demands.
“California will continue to protect a woman’s right to choose, and we won't back down from defending reproductive freedom for everybody — full stop,” Newsom said, noting that the Obama administration reviewed and okayed the requirement.
"Despite a federal opinion four years ago confirming California’s compliance with the Weldon Amendment, the Trump Administration would rather rile up its base to score cheap political points and risk access to care for millions than do what’s right," Newsom said.